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The Pacific Northwest (PNW) experienced challenging drought conditions in the 2021 soft white crop year, resulting in a wheat crop with higher protein and lower yields. This year’s SW crop has weak to medium gluten strength and acceptable finished product characteristics. SW is especially suited for use in cakes, pastries, cookies and snack foods. The high protein segment of the SW crop provides opportunities in blends for crackers, Asian noodles, steamed breads, flatbreads and pan breads. With very weak gluten strength, Club White is typically used in a Western White blend with SW for cakes and delicate pastries.

2021 U.S. soft white sampling data

Weather and Harvest

Winter planting conditions were generally good, including sufficient moisture overall to develop a strong stand; however, less winter moisture impacted crop development coming out of dormancy. Spring planting conditions were poor due to the very dry conditions and excessive heat throughout much of the PNW.

As the crop developed, extreme sustained heat in late June accelerated crop maturity in many areas, which put the harvest timeframe generally ahead of average. Production of the 2021 PNW SW crop is estimated at 4.3 MMT, the lowest for the region since 1966.

Buyers are encouraged to review their quality specifications to ensure that their purchases meet their expectations. This will be a good year to understand SW protein performance versus protein levels; your local USW representative can help.

2021 Crop Highlights:

  • Grade – the overall averages are U.S. No. 2 Soft White and U.S. No. 1 White Club.
  • Test Weight averages are 59.3 lb/bu for SW and 59.7 lb/bu for WC.
  • Wheat Protein (12% mb) ranges from 8.1 to 11.9% for SW, with the weighted average 11.3%. Club averages 11.5%.
  • Wheat Moisture ranges from 8.7 to 9.7% for SW with a weighted average of 8.8%. Club averages 8.0%.
  • Wheat Falling Number average is 319 sec or higher for all SW composites and 345 sec for Club.
  • Wet Gluten contents for SW flour range from 8.4 to 24.5%, depending on flour protein content. Club averages 6.1%.
  • SRC lactic acid values range 91 to 109% for SW, indicating weak to medium gluten strength.
  • Amylograph peak viscosities for SW are between 472 and 542 BU for all composites. Club averages on amylograph peak viscosity of 529 BU.
  • Farinograph SW absorptions range from 51.5 to 53.1% with 2.2 to 2.6 min stability times, showing desirable weak dough characteristics. Average Club farinograph absorption is 51.1% with a stability of 1.1 min, showing very weak dough characteristics typical for Club.
  • Extensograph SW data at 45 min show maximum resistance in the range of 174 to 284 BU, extensibility 16.8 to 18.4 cm and area 46 to 79 cm2. Club extensograph 45 min maximum resistance, extensibility, and area are 107 BU, 17.2 cm, and 23 cm2, respectively.
  • Alveograph SW ranges include P values 37 to 42 mm; L values 57 to 68 mm; and W values 63 to 78 (10-4 J). Average Club alveograph P, L and W values of 27 mm, 43 mm, and 29 (10-4 J), respectively.
  • Sponge Cake SW volumes range from 1077 to 1104 cc, depending on protein content, with a weighted average of 1081 cc. Total sponge cake score is 33 to 49, with a weighted average of 35. Club sponge cake volume is 1070 cc with a total score of 34. Scores were lower due to firmer textures.
  • Cookie SW diameters are 8.6 to 8.7 cm with spread factors of 10.1 to 10.4. Club diameter and spread factor are 9.1 and 12.6 cm, respectively.
  • Chinese Southern-Type Steamed Bread specific volumes are 2.2 to 2.4 mL/g with total scores less than the control score of 70.0. Club specific volume is 2.3 mL/g with a total score below the control.

Read more about the 2021 soft white wheat crop here and view the full regional report here.

2021 Crop Quality Data on Other U.S. Wheat Classes

Hard Red Winter
Soft Red Winter
Northern Durum
Desert Durum® And California Hard Red Winter
Data on other classes will be available soon

 

 

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There is an easily understood expression in English that “you cannot judge a book by its cover.” Applied to the new 2021/22 U.S. soft white wheat crop that is good advice for the world’s flour millers and wheat food producers.

The persistent Pacific Northwest (PNW) drought is expected to lower yields and push 2021/22 SW protein levels higher than average. As USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung says, however, protein level alone does not say everything about soft white end-quality performance.

Instead, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is helping flour millers learn that testing for Solvent Retention Capacity (SRC) is the most effective and valuable method for predicting the true performance characteristics of flour for biscuits (cookies) and crackers.

The SRC method, approved by the American Association of Cereal Chemists (56-11.02), examines the characteristics of glutenin, gliadin and arabinoxylan and the level of starch damage in flour. These values describe the flour’s ability to absorb water during the mixing process and its ability to retain or release that water during and after the baking process, among several other performance characteristics.

The combined pattern of the four component SRC values establishes a practical flour quality profile useful for predicting functionality, giving the miller and baker a ‘fingerprint’ of U.S. soft white (SW) and soft red winter (SRW) wheat flour end-quality performance.

Image of a video describing SRC analysis of soft white wheat and other classes

Noted cereal chemist Dr. Art Bettge, ADB Wheat Consulting, described SRC use and interpretation in-depth in a video lecture for USW’s 2020 Crop Quality Seminars.

“While rheological analysis tools measure the combined effect of the components in flour, individual component functionality, measured by SRC, gives a better picture of whether you are going to get the desirable performance from the flour for the product you want to make,” Chung told a large audience of millers and bakers in a USW webinar on SRC in June 2021.

With a more complete understanding of the functional value of wheat proteins, carbohydrates and other properties, flour milling quality control managers will have additional information to evaluate the characteristics more accurately of U.S. soft white wheat and Western White (a blend of SW and a minimum 10% white club) this year compared to competing supplies.

Test of cookie spread using soft white wheat flour and other low protein flour to show protein % does not always predict performance.

These test results, provided by USW Bakery Consultant Roy Chung, show cookie spread increases and then declines as the flour protein percentage lowers, demonstrating that protein percentage alone is not an accurate predictor of performance.

Clean Label Input

“In addition, more wheat food manufacturers are looking for ways to ‘clean up’ their ingredient labels,” said USW Regional Technical Director Peter Lloyd. “USW can show SRC results to millers and bakers that prove flours from U.S. soft white wheat and SRW wheat can make beautiful end products without adding any ‘magic powder’ like enzymes that have to be added to medium protein wheat flour to make weak gluten products.”

USW has helped flour mills understand the advantages of SW by introducing SRC analysis and training mills to use the tool to expand their business. Vietnam is one example, where several flour mills use SRC analysis of flour products milled from SW to demonstrate how end-product performance is improved compared to flour milled from alternative wheat supplies.

“Our baking experts have already had several sessions with flour millers across South and North Asia about the benefits of evaluating flour from SW with SRC over protein levels alone,” said USW Regional Vice President Matt Weimar. “We were also pleased with the number of millers who participated in the June webinar on SRC, in which Roy Chung and Tarik Gahi, our Milling and Baking Technologist, demonstrated the SRC method. We also had a well-attended second session in July featuring Peter Lloyd discussing how to use SRC data to blend flour streams for better performance and profit.”

Excellent SW Will Be Available

Buyers, millers and end-users can be reassured that excellent quality SW is available even with a short 2021/22 crop. Beginning stocks carry in 1.91 million metric tons of total U.S. white wheat following a 2020/21 PNW SW crop with excellent performance characteristics. Local USW offices and U.S. export grain companies are also prepared to help their customers develop tenders that will deliver the wheat qualities needed at the highest value possible.

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By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

Hot, dry weather following a parched fall and a winter with less snow in some areas has many parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho experiencing some of the driest weather in a generation. Much of the area that grows spring and winter soft white (SW) and white club wheat is experiencing some form of drought. All eyes will be on USDA’s first estimate of new crop SW production in its July World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, although a reduction in yield potential and concerns about protein levels are already anticipated.

The market has reacted to the weather with FOB prices for ordinary SW up $140.00 per metric ton ($4.00 per bushel) more than a year ago. Demand for the 2020/21 SW crop was quite strong and ending stocks of 1.31 million metric tons are half of what they were in 2019/20. The stocks-to-use ratio for SW ended the year at only 13%.

Now, the hot dry weather leaves farmers unwilling to forward contract new crop sales as they struggle to identify what volume they will produce and because dry conditions tend to increase protein, what protein levels they will be able to offer. Traders are cautious because the drought’s effect on protein levels could make securing lower protein SW difficult. It is important to remember that SW protein levels have been elevated in some past years. Your local U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) office is an excellent resource to help you identify how to get the most value from every new crop.

Showing the U.S. Drought Monitor for the Western states.

Extreme drought is intensifying in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the western United States.

Michelle Hennings, Executive Director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, recently noted that while winter planted SW is stressed with lower yield potential, spring planted SW has had so little moisture some farmers may not have any harvest.

Washington state, which accounts for around 50% of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) SW crop, has received only half of its usual average rainfall according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and areas falling into the drought category makeup well over half the state. Areas rated in extreme drought are increasing fast week-over-week and winter wheat conditions in Washington are rated 15% good to excellent.

Karin Bumbaco, Assistant State Climatologist, University of Washington, recently noted that the drought in the state has expanded quickly. Just three months ago none of Washington was in extreme drought versus today when more than 23% of the state – and almost all the state’s wheat country – falls into the category (see the PNW SW wheat production area above from the interactive U.S. wheat export supply system map on www.uswheat.org).

Driest in More than 40 Years

The once-in-a-generation drought led one farmer to observe “if you can get an average crop, consider yourself lucky!”

This photo by Anna King, Northwest News Network, from an article in NPR.org shows severe drought stress on wheat in Washington state.

This photo by Anna King, Northwest News Network, from an article in NPR.org shows severe drought stress on wheat in Washington state.

Darren Padget, a dryland wheat farmer in north-central Oregon and the current USW Chairman, noted that harvest may come early this year. The lack of rain has matured his crop enough that harvest, which usually comes at the end of July, may start in less than a month. Padget also mentioned that it is the driest weather he has seen since 1977, a year many farmers remember when looking for a comparison to this year. In Oregon, which accounts for around 20% of the PNW SW crop, winter wheat conditions are rated 11% good to excellent.

Some Good to Excellent Wheat

Idaho, which accounts for around 30% of the PNW SW crop, has also been very dry. Similar to neighboring states, spring planted SW in Idaho is severely stressed, especially on non-irrigated fields. However, some wheat in Idaho is grown under irrigation and farmers there are more optimistic about the condition of fall planted SW fields. In fact, USDA’s latest report puts 44% of SW winter wheat in good to excellent condition.

Despite the challenges to the 2021/22 PNW SW crop, many farmers do have crop insurance and the state governments are also considering other ways to help farmers through this challenge, and USW is there for overseas buyers who have questions and concerns.

Producers, by nature, remain optimistic. One producer in Washington state put it best: “…we are not going to give up.”

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The new U.S. winter wheat crop is rapidly developing and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will publish its first “Harvest Report” for marketing year 2021/22 on Friday, May 14.

USW Harvest Reports are published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

Anyone may subscribe to an email version of the “Harvest Report” at this link. USW includes links in the email to additional wheat condition and grading information, including the U.S. Drought Monitor, USDA/NASS Crop Progress and National Wheat Statistics, the official FGIS wheat grade standards and USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. Harvest Reports are also posted online on the USW website here.

The weekly Harvest Report is a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs. It is a resource that helps customers understand how the crop situation may affect basis values and export prices.

USW’s overseas offices share the report with their market contacts and use it as a key resource for answering inquiries and meeting with customers. Several USW offices publish the reports in the local language. Additional links to Harvest Report are available on USW’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

USW wants to thank and acknowledge the organizations that make “Harvest Reports” possible, including:

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Each of the six U.S. wheat classes brings unique advantages to the increasingly competitive global wheat market.

First, and perhaps the most important, is consistency in quality and supply. Although each new crop year brings different challenges and opportunities, high-quality U.S. wheat is always available to the global market.

Second, each class of wheat provides the ingredients needed to produce so much of the world’s food. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Vice President of Global Technical Services Mark Fowler makes the point this way: “Our six U.S. wheat classes give our customers the opportunity to optimize taste, texture and appearance of thousands of food products made with flour or semolina.”

Every region, country and culture have wheat-based food products that are uniquely their own. The United States has the right wheat class and quality to make every one of those products more appealing and valuable.

In the video below, Mark Fowler talks about each of the six wheat classes grown in the United States, their definition, uses and their functional characteristics.

Learn more about the six classes of U.S. wheat here or leave a question in the U.S. Wheat Associates’ “Ask The Expert” section.

Interested in more USW video content? Visit our video library at https://vimeo.com/uswheatassociates.


Read more about other classes of U.S. wheat in this series.

Hard Red Winter
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

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Even in the face of a global pandemic, dependable U.S. wheat farmers persisted in their essential effort to produce the highest quality wheat in the world, while the reliable U.S. export supply system continued operating to move that wheat to the world.

As a key part of its commitment to transparency and trade service, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has produced its annual Crop Quality Report that includes grade, flour and baking data for all six U.S. wheat classes. The report compiles comprehensive data from analysis of hundreds of samples conducted during and after harvest by our partner organizations and laboratories. The report provides essential, objective information to help buyers get the wheat they need at the best value possible.

The 2020 USW Crop Quality Report is now available for download in EnglishSpanishFrench and Italian. Arabic, Chinese and, for the first time, Portuguese, translations will be available soon. USW also shares more detailed, regional reports for all six U.S. wheat classes on its website, as well as additional information on its sample and collection methods, solvent retention capacity (SRC) recommendations, standard deviation tables and more. Download these reports and resources from the www.uswheat.org here.

The pandemic has changed other traditional parts of the USW Crop Quality outreach effort. Unfortunately, face-to-face Crop Quality Seminars are not possible in 2020. Instead, USW is preparing a unique way for our customers to experience and gain more knowledge about the 2020 U.S. wheat crops. For more information, please contact your local USW office.

Continue to look for updates from the 2020 USW Crop Quality Seminars on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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The Pacific Northwest (PNW) experienced excellent growing conditions in 2020 resulting in a soft white (SW) and white club (WC) crop with very good quality and yields. The crop had lower protein and moisture with consistently high grade factors. Overall quality is characterized by very weak to medium gluten strength with excellent potential to produce SW and SW blended flour products. Average test weights for SW and WC are greater than in 2019 composites with good falling number and kernel characteristics. Flour characteristics align with protein contents and show good color and FN values with slightly lower flour yield than the 5-year average. Farinograph water absorptions are desirably low for both SW and WC, with weak to medium gluten characteristics for SW and very weak gluten for WC. For finished products, low protein composites produced good sponge cake total scores and cookie diameters. Higher protein composites showed good total scores for Chinese southern-style steamed breads.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has posted the full 2020 Soft White Wheat Quality Report on its website here.

 

With adequate moisture at planting for winter and spring SW and WC varieties, and timely rains through May and June, yields were above average in Washington and Idaho and average in Oregon. USDA estimates total 2020 PNW SW production at 7.2 million metric tons (MMT), a new record for the region. Of the total, WC production is estimated at 0.26 MMT.

Here are highlights of data from the 2020 SW and WC wheat crop.

WHEAT AND GRADE DATA:

  • Grade – the overall averages are U.S. No. 1 SWH and U.S. No. 1 WHCB.
  • Test Weight averages are 61.9 lb/bu for SW and 61.6 lb/bu for WC, both well above the 5-year average.
  • Dockage, total defects and foreign material averages are low and similar to 2019 and the 5-year averages.
  • Wheat Protein at 9.8 (12% mb) for SW and WC is lower than the 5-year averages.
  • 1000 Kernel Weight average of 36.3 g (14% mb) for SW and 32.3 g for WC are significantly higher than the 5-year averages.
  • Wheat Falling Number – SW average is 323 sec and WC average is 322, indicative of sound wheat.

FLOUR AND BAKING DATA:

  • Laboratory Mill Flour Extraction average for SW is 72.6%, slightly lower than the 5-year averages of 74.5%, while WC average is 74.7%, which is higher than the 5-year average.
  • Flour Ash levels of 0.43% (14% mb) for SW is slightly lower than the 5-year average; WC levels of 0.48% is slightly more than the 5-year average.
  • Alveograph L value of 112 (mm) for SW is significantly higher than the 5-year average of 101; WC L value of 101 is also well over the 5-year average of 76. Alveograph W value (10-4 J) for SW is 94 compared to a 5-year average of 91, with WC at 37, which is slightly below the 5-year average.
  • Farinograph peak and stability times of 1.9 and 2.3 min, respectively, for SW and 1.3 and 1.1, respectively, for WC indicate desirable weak dough characteristics.
  • Sponge Cake Volumes ranged from 1,088 to 1,171 cc with a weighted average of 1,120 cc for SW, with total score at 45. Volume for WC averaged 1,129 cc with a total score of 47.
  • Cookie Diameters for SW are 8.7 to 9.2 cm with spread factors of 9.6 to 11.4. WC cookie diameter and spread factor are 8.7 and 10.2 cm, respectively.
  • Chinese Southern-Style Steamed Breads analysis show SW volumes are 1.4 to 2.1 mL/g with total scores equal to or better than the control at 70 mL/g. WC specific volume is 2.1 mL/g with a total score below the control.

Buyers are encouraged to review their quality specifications to ensure that their purchases meet their expectations.


View other summaries of the 2020 U.S. wheat crop:
Hard Red Winter 
Hard Red Spring
Hard White
Soft Red Winter
Durum

View the full 2020 U.S. Crop Quality Report and other related resources here.

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U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.


The Padget Family: Padget Ranches sits on the arid Columbia Plateau above the John Day River in Oregon, where Darren Padget’s family has farmed since 1910. Today, Darren farms with his wife Brenda and their son Logan, as well as his dad Dale, a retired wheat farmer who participated in his 68th wheat harvest in 2020. Their dryland wheat and summer fallow rotation currently produces registered and certified seed on 3,400 acres annually.

Location: Grass Valley, Ore.
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Soft White (SW)
Leadership: Darren Padget: 2020/21 Chairman, U.S. Wheat Associates; Commissioner, Oregon Wheat Commission; Past President, Oregon Wheat Growers League; Past Chair, National Association of Wheat Growers Research and Technology Committee; Past Officer, Mid-Columbia Producers Board of Directors.


View other videos and stories in this series:

Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Loving the Work in Ohio
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Stewardship in Washington
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Living with Purpose in North Dakota
Stories from the Wheat Farm – A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma

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U.S. wheat farm families grow six distinct classes of wheat across the diverse landscape of the United States. Those farmers take great care in producing the highest quality wheat in the most sustainable ways possible to honor their family legacies and to ensure greater value for their customers at home and abroad. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people.


The Bailey Family and LM Farms: After starting his career at a major farm lending institution, Gary Bailey left to join his family’s farm full-time in 1989, working alongside his parents and two brothers. He wanted to be a part of the legacy that his parents started and to give his children the same kind of upbringing that he had. Today, Gary works the farm’s 4,500 acres alongside his brother Mark and his niece Erin, the next generation.

Location: St. John, Washington (Whitman County)
Classes of Wheat Grown:  Soft White (SW); White Club
Leadership: Gary Bailey: Chairman, Washington Grain Commission; USW Director; Director, St. John Grain Growers (Whitgro); Local Advisory Committee, Northwest Farm Credit Services; Member, Washington State University Land Legacy Committee; and Director, St. John Telco.

 


View other videos and stories in this series:

Stories from the Wheat Farm – The Next Generation in Kansas
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Loving the Work in Ohio
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Living with Purpose in North Dakota
Stories from the Wheat Farm – A Passion for the Land in Oklahoma
Stories from the Wheat Farm – Committed to Wheat Quality in Oregon

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For 40 years, U.S. wheat farmers have supported U.S. Wheat Associates’ (USW) efforts to work directly with buyers and promote their six classes of wheat. Their contributions to state wheat commissions, who in turn contribute a portion of those funds to USW, qualifies USW to apply for export market development funds managed by USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Currently, 17 state wheat commissions are USW members and this series highlights those partnerships and the work being done state-by-state to provide unmatched service. Behind the world’s most reliable supply of wheat are the world’s most dependable people – and that includes our state wheat commissions.


Member: California Wheat Commission
Member of USW since 1994

Location: Woodland, Calif.
Classes of wheat grown: Hard Red Winter (HRW), Hard White (HW), Soft White (SW), Durum
USW Leadership:  Roy Motter, 2014/15 Chairman

Wheat is an important part of farming economics in California both as a valuable rotational crop and a primary crop. The California Wheat Commission’s (CWC) mission is “to support research that improves California wheat quality and marketability, and to develop and maintain domestic and international markets for California wheat.”

USW Past President Alan Tracy visited 2014/15 Chairman Roy Motter on his farm in California in 2015.

Why is export market development important to California wheat farmers and why do they continue to support USW and its activities?

Since wheat is a global commodity, U.S. pricing is tied to the ups and downs of the global marketplace. A strong export market leads to a higher market value and potentially a higher premium for California wheat. While flour milled from California wheat has many coveted qualities for baking, pasta and tortilla manufacturers, any pricing premium will be a percentage over the U.S. market. Due to the competition of other high value crops in California, bolstered global wheat prices influence additional planted and harvested acres of wheat. U.S. Wheat Associates unites wheat growers to work together for our common good. As wheat growers, we have all benefited from our membership and USW’s staff working on trade policy, opening new markets and strengthening relationships both domestically and globally to grow our industry.

How have California wheat farmers recently connected with overseas customers?

California wheat farmers connect with overseas customers in USW meetings. California also hosts customers from various mills as part of California Wheat Commission’s training courses. This face to face interaction and learning is the best way for us to build strong relationships with our customers.

What is happening lately in California that overseas customers should know about?

  • The California Wheat Lab offers milling, baking, pasta making and other flour-based product training. We partner with Andrea Saturno and Marco Fava to offer a pasta course in Spanish.
  • CWC is currently working on creating a targeted artisan baking product course for white and whole grain flours.
  • In collaboration with the University of California-Davis (UCD), CWC developed a new preferred variety list for hard white and hard red wheat and is developing a list for durum wheat. Also, in collaboration with UCD, we have released varieties with high fiber, high yellow pigment and increased protein content. Breeding for high nutrient density wheat crops continues to be a priority for the breeding program, in addition to quality and yield improvements.

Learn more about the California Wheat Commission on its website here and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin.

Past Chairman Roy Motter and his family’s California wheat farm were featured in a USW profile series on sustainability practices. View the profile here.

2014/15 Chairman Roy Motter, a wheat farmer from California (R) is congratulated on his year of service by 2013/14 Chairman Dan Hughes, a wheat farmer from Nebraska (L).

CWC Executive Director Claudia Carter at the California Wheat Lab.